1:31pm. I woke around 2am as seems usual these days and despite my best efforts to get another hours sleep I failed so at 5am I got up feeling very tired but looking forward to the day ahead. After a coffee and some fruit for breakfast, I was off to meet Claire, Brian and Dolly at Graining Water Bridge near Lumb Waterfalls for my birthday run to Alcomden Stones via Shackleton Knoll.
I arrived just before Claire and Brian and had a quick run to test my Achilles. A short run and I swapped my Altra’s for my Inov8s and then I was ready to run. Claire and Brian arrived shortly after and Claire gave me a plain brown envelope with a few things for my birthday inside and I surprised Claire by giving her a pendent with some heather in from the Bronte shop. It’s a long time since I’ve seen someone so overwhelmed with a present from me and Claire genuinely was. I think she even said how much her present wasn’t as good but people shouldn’t be drawn into comparing presents like that. It’s the giving that matters and it was nice to see Claire smiling at her pendent.
We set off up the hill to Sheep Shit House and despite my Achilles aching I felt ok and we made decent progress going up the hill. Although it was misty with some rain in the air it was warm and we soon warmed up and were all sweating as we climbed to Shackleton Knoll. At the knoll the wind picked up so we took a few photos and headed down to Walshaw. Even on a day like today the views are still stunning from Shackleton Knoll. My Achilles was still ok at this point, aching but not too much to cause me any problems.
We headed down to Walshaw and turned right to head over Walshaw Moor before dropping down to Walshaw Dean reservoirs. I found it amusing when Dolly ran off chasing rabbits but Claire didn’t and she become very stern shouting ‘Dolly come here’. I’ve never seen Claire get mad before and I don’t fancy being on the receiving end of an angry outburst either!
We made our way down to the reservoirs and as Claire had said the gates were locked. Brian and me climbed over the stile at the first gate and Claire and Dolly went through a gap in the wall. We carried on the short way to the next gate which was also locked. I tried to climb over but got scared so went over the fence with Claire while Brian did the stile.
Then we got on the Pennine Way and started the climb to Top Withens on the other side of the hill. I was leading and felt good until we got halfway up and I felt my left Achilles tendon tear. It was a frightening moment as a torn Achilles is a very serious injury but thankfully it was only a small tear but it was very painful to run now. Just putting and strain on my left foot down was agony and each stride made it worse. I didn’t say anything to Claire and Brian as I didn’t want to worry them and ruin the day but I was really hurting and I should have stopped when I got to the house and gone down to Stanbury but I was determined to get to the stones for my birthday even if it killed me.
We got to the house and I carried straight on up to the stones. I didn’t dare stop incase I couldn’t get going again. At the top Claire and Brian picked up the pace and were running ahead. I did everything I could to keep up with them and not slow them down too much but it was getting harder and harder for me to keep up. At the stones we stopped for a bit, took some photos and had something to eat and a chat. It was windy, cold and misty at the stones and after a while I could feel my hands getting cold so I knew it was time to go. We set off back to Top Withens back along the way we had come.
At Top Withens we headed down to the trail to take us to Harbour Lodge. Going down the hill I was ok but then my Achilles started getting worse and I soon lost pace only keeping in touch with Claire and Brian because I took better lines down the hill.
The trail to Harbour Lodge was murder and almost brought me to tears. My Achilles had gone now and I was in unbearable pain. I kept going over on my left ankle too, how I didn’t break it is beyond me. I could just about walk on the trail and I was biting my tongue and swearing because of the pain. At the Harbour Lodge we turned right and headed for the conduits above us.
I really, really struggled here, slipping and sliding everywhere and barely able to keep up a decent walking pace never mind run. My legs had gone now and I was walking on adrenaline. Claire and Brian ran on ahead and I couldn’t blame them. I was taking an age to do this trail and it felt even longer to me. They waited for me at the gate and we turned right again to head back to the cars.
On the climb we slowly walked up together having a good chat about everything. At the top I decided enough was enough and broke into a slow pace while Claire and Brian ran on ahead. It was hard work but I was determined to finish my birthday run. running.
Back at the bridge we chatted about the old days before going back home. I enjoyed the run despite my injured Achilles. It was lovely running with Claire, Brian and Dolly and I felt lucky to have good friends I could run with.
At home I got showered and changed, had something to eat and hobbled over to the club. We played dominoes badly and some of my mates bought me some birthday drinks. In a drunken haze I tried to make a joke with Brian but humour is not one of my strengths even less so when I’m drunk so I probably made myself look dafter than usual! After too many beers I headed home pretty gone but happy after a good day spent with good friends.